Is Activated Charcoal Safe to Use for Detoxification?

SIAvramova/ iStock / Getty Images Plus
SIAvramova/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

Developed for medical use and generally prescribed to treat poisoning, activated charcoal is ingested to absorb harmful chemicals in the GI tract and stop the body from absorbing them. While it is effective in treating acute poisonings, it is not meant to be used as a routine supplement to bind unwanted “toxins” in the body.

There is no concrete evidence to support the use of activated charcoal to lower cholesterol, decrease flatulence, remedy hangovers or help the body “detox.” It can bind nutrients in the digestive tract, prevent absorption of prescribed medicines, lead to constipation and is not advisable for consumption without instruction from a medical provider.

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Taylor Wolfram
Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN, is a consultant and private practice dietitian based in Chicago. She uses a Health At Every Size framework to provide inclusive nutrition counseling and intuitive eating coaching. Read her blog at